Saturday, October 18, 2014

Can Single Women Be Homemakers?

  Does being a 'homemaker' apply to women who have husbands, children, or both, or does it apply to every woman who is in Christ, whether she is single or not?

  The family set up was interesting in the Bible days. Families were literally closer. In homes where the woman was widowed, the sons, usually the oldest, took on the family responsibilities for providing and protecting. Many homes were multi-generational. We do have that here in America today, as well. But we do have a lot of single people who live alone, or with a group of other singles, which is something that I don't think happened so much during the Bible days.

   Let's take Mary and Martha, and use them as an example. They were single women. Perhaps they were widows, but, more probably, they never married. They lived with their brother, Lazarus. He was basically the head of the household. This positioning did not prevent Mary and Martha from being hospitable though. Martha must have been a pretty good housekeeper as she valued those skills highly, as seen during the time Jesus visited their home. Martha put too much emphasis on the details of how the house looked and if the roast was cooking right (I know, this is speculation). But Mary was the one who was actually the hospitable one. She was the one who gave her full attention to Jesus during His visit. If Jesus came to your home today, would you be more concerned about what your house looked like, or would you rather learn from Him while He is visiting?

  Mary and Martha had good homemaking skills. Their visitors felt welcome when they came to their home. But there were other women, as well, who served those in the church by using their homes. Lydia was such a woman. In Acts 16, we read about a woman named Lydia. Not much is told about her, except that she had a household. It doesn't appear that she had a husband, but it could be that he was there too. But as we read on, she invited the Apostles into her home. I love this. Here is the account from Acts 16:15 "And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us." ESV. Not only did she invite the Apostles over, but she 'prevailed' upon them. I would think the means something like when I would go over to my mom's house after I got married. "Here's some cookies. Have some. I can make you some bacon and eggs. Have a sandwich. Why don't you stay for dinner." I imaging Lydia was like that. "Come on Paul. You guys need to stay at my home. We have stuff to eat and places where you can sleep. Bring those with you.There's plenty of room for everyone. You can stay as long as you like. If you ever come back to our town, you know you have a place to stay." 

   Keep in mind this fact; If you want to show hospitality like that, you will have to keep up with your household chores. You can't invite people over if the pile of dishes has been sitting there all week, or the crust on the countertops is getting higher and is being enjoyed by the cockroaches. There are some basic homemaking skills that will have to be employed, if you want to have people over to your house. 

   God wants us to use our homes as places of refuge, safely, comfort, and hospitality. This job is primarily given to women. They are to run their households, whether they are married or not. Even if the woman lives with her mom, or her parents, she can still take ownership for many things inside the home. She can help out financially, but she can also help with the upkeep of the home. She can help keep the countertops cleaned off and clean the bathrooms for whoever will be using them, whether it be a guest or a family member. There is always laundry to do, and many household chores which end up taking a lot of time. Changing linens and airing out the house is helpful too. 

  One of the best ways that indicate homemaking skills are necessary, is in the area of hospitality. In the days of Early America, there were these places called 'Inns' and they were people's homes which were situated in areas where others would travel. If someone were tired and there was a nearby Inn, they could stop in and rest or even spend the night. It was like a hotel, but it didn't cost anything. People could wash up and sleep and get ready for travel the next day. Running an Inn does not happen by itself. It takes a lot of work to make the house ready for people to stay over. But that is what we are called to do. We are not all called to run Inns, but we are to open our homes to those who are in the church or in need. 

   I say this cautiously though, for today, we need wisdom and discernment. Obviously, a single woman is not going to house a man. That would be dangerous and could lead to ruin. We are not going to open our homes to just anyone because of the dangers of being raped, robbed, or kidnapped. We live in a society where many think this is just a normal, o.k. way of living, and will abuse those who are showing compassion. But there are definitely ways to show hospitality to others, by using our homes. And it doesn't required being married and having children to do this, although this is an important dynamic, it is not necessary to show hospitality with.

Our homes can be bakeries, restaurants, hotels, and places to have conversations. Single women can do this! If you are a single woman who knows the Lord, please don't assume you are not a homemaker! You are one, and you can use your skills to serve others in the body of Christ. 

   How many times has there been an event through the church that requires the use of a house? How many times have we been in a position where we could use someone's home for a meeting place? I have a friend who lives in a condo, who is a single woman with grown children. I love the way she is using what God has given to her, for his purposes. She rents out a clubhouse and has it available for women to meet and pray. She is being very resourceful with what God has given her. 

  So, I think there is a bigger part of the picture that we don't see. So many times, we miss God because we make assumptions based upon what we have learned and already know, and somehow we don't even think of all the possibilities there are out there for God to use us. 

   Let us not just think of our homes as a place where we take a bath at night, and sleep on a bed. There is much more that God wants to do in our hearts concerning our homes and homemaking abilities. For each woman, it will look a little different. Let God show you how you can use your home for His glory and in serving others in the church. 

An old, Early American ad for a woman to be hired to do
the domestic chores that the seeker is looking for. It must
be a very old ad, as the letter s looks like an f. That is how
the letters looked in the days when the King James Version
of the Bible was being printed. 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Does Your House Match The Ones In 'Good Housekeeping' or 'Better Homes And Gardens'?

   I am so amazed at how Americans prize beauty so much. We love beauty and comfort, but at what expense?

  Take bugs for example. Both men and women hate bugs. Roaches are especially hated. And yes, some bugs do harm, and must be removed. But what are the methods we use to get rid of them, and is getting rid of all of them necessary?

  Our yards look like they have been to the beauty shop. In some subdivisions, there are even contests on whose lawn is the most beautiful. There are even ribbons put into the yard to show appreciation to the owner of the beautiful yard. But what are the trade offs? How does God see all this?

   Many women struggle because they don't think their house measures up to some certain standard. My goal for you is to set you free from feeling like you have to keep up a certain standard.

   For 25 years, I have been homeschooling my children. If you want to do homeschooling properly, your house is not always going to be clean. You see, your children have to learn, and they need to be in a house where they can learn and experiment. Even if you do not homeschool, your home is still your children's primary place of learning.

  If you are homeschooling or if you have children in your house, you have probably figured out by now, that your home does not match the pictures of the homes in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I hope you can be ok with that. I hope that you realize, that if you are in Christ, God accepts you (and your home) just the way it is.

   In some ways, your house is going to be like a laboratory. If you are aware of the many things going on in the food industry, you will realize the need to prepare your own food, and if you are really adventurous, you may even be growing your own organic garden. You are doing this because you love your family and want them to be nourished, and you know that if you open up boxes and cans of prepared food every night for your family to eat, that the trade-off will be the health of your family members. Your kitchen will not always be neat and tidy. There will always be activity going on inside of our kitchens and other areas of the house.

  God is a God of order, and I am not saying that a homemaker should be lazy or disorganized. But realistically speaking, it takes a lot of work to make a home, and to properly take care of those living in the household. Your piles of messes can still have organization to them, and when projects are finished, then they do not have to be left out. We use bins and containers, along with book shelves and storage places to make things look tidier and to keep things off the floor, so they do not get lost or broken.

   My house will never look like the ones on the cover of the magazines. I have different cultures growing in different rooms. I buy food in bulk and there is never enough room in the cupboards or shelves to store the food. The linen closets are small and only hold a small amount of linens. I can see that homes are designed for families with one, or at the most, two children.

   We have to compare our ideals with what the Bible teaches. Regardless of what people say when they believe culture is more important than what God says, God has the ultimate authority in our lives. Culture would teach us that a woman needs to have a career. Staying home with children is old fashioned and worthless. Instead of women having an identity with Jesus Christ, their identity comes with their career. Many women today choose not to have children because of the cost and inconvenience, but God's perspective is different.

   Today, we see a lot of adults that are (or appear) stupid. I am not saying this to be mean. There are adults who do not even know that they need to look both ways before they cross the street. There are men who have no idea that they should carry heavy loads for women, and many adults today do not even know how to say 'please' or 'thank you'. Could it be that these adults were children who were 'left to themselves' with very little adult supervision? Could it be that mom wanted that career so bad, that the kids got left out of the deal? Could it be that dad got custody of the kids while mom was out flirting with men, and now dad has to try to be both mom and dad, and burned out by trying to hold 3 jobs to make ends meet, while the kids had to be left alone for long periods of time? Moms, wives, homemakers, you need to serve your families first! You hold the key to your homes being in order!

  Back to the beautiful houses. Do you want your house to be on the cover of a magazine, or, would you rather have your family be served, so they they can be trained and equipped to minister to a lost and dying world? Can you let go of the bugs for a while, and take the time to work with your teenager as he goes through a crisis? Can you use your lawn to produce nourishing food for your family instead of putting poisons on it to make your yard look beautiful?

   If you are listening to God's voice, and following what He says, your house and yard will probably never appear on a magazine cover. If you struggle with this, you can ask God to help you see what is most important. You can ask God to change your heart and to be satisfied with those things that will have everlasting results.

'The grass fades, and the flower withers, but the word of God stands forever.'
'Whatever we sow, we will also reap'.
'Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart'.
' A child left to himself brings his mother to shame.'
'The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.' (not in the Bible, but still a good quote).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Can Your Family Make An Impact?

   Years ago,  I was going through a hard time with going through depression, and my husband did not know how to help me. We had only been married for a couple of years, and were very young in our Christian experience at that time. We were part of a church where people, even famous people, popped in for a while, at during this time a man named Charles McFeaters and his wife were part of this church. They moved away after this, to start a ministry in the inner city around Hollywood, ministering to those on the streets and drug users who wanted to be free and delivered. My husband asked Charles what could he do to help me. Charles' answer was amazing, and helpful to this day. At the time, it didn't really register, but now it makes perfect sense. The answer was also very simple. Charles recommended that I start serving other people. Instead of sitting at home brooding over things that were bothering me, I needed to serve people around me. What a new concept. Why didn't I think of that before?

   Both of our families moved to other places. But I will always remember that concept even if I didn't put it into practice right away.

    What I am writing here today is simple. It is a way that families can serve others together. It doesn't have to be just one member out of the family doing this kind of activity, although that is not wrong, and sometimes it just works out where only one family member is envisioned to do these things while others aren't quite ready yet. But, families can work together and enjoy serving others as a family unit. It will be one more way for the family unit to become stronger.

   I was reading through my email this morning, and this email came from 'Focus on the Family'. It gave some insights on how to work together as a family to serve, along with some practical suggestions. So, I will copy and paste what is written by them, here.

How are you making an impact?

Do you think of yourself as a "world changer?" Most of us want our families to somehow make a difference, but sometimes it's hard to know where to start. It helps to remember that even if we may not feel positioned right now to do much of a tangible nature, since we are all part ofsomething bigger than ourselves we can still be involved in helping to impact our world.

Here are a few brief ideas for purposefully developing a "world-changing" mindset as a household:
• Volunteer together as an entire family—regularly or even occasionally—with local church 
or civic groups that reach out to those in need in your community (soup kitchens, work 
days, etc.).
• Team up as a household to research and learn about the challenges facing people 
in other parts of the world.
• "Adopt" a missionary family in a foreign land.
• Become acquainted with Christian ministries that specialize in assisting those affected 
by difficult circumstances (poverty, persecution, etc.).*
• If your family resources allow, consider participating in Christian relief efforts—for 
example, committing to long-term sponsorship of a specific child in a third world 
country, or making periodic donations to humanitarian organizations. **
•  Even if you can't give financially, make it a point to pray regularly, as a family, 
for those in need "close to home" and overseas.

    * According to Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (When Helping Hurts), there is a 
difference between relief type of help and developmental/rehabilitative help. Many 
times, compassionate people offer relief type of help, when they should be offering 
rehabilitative or developmental type of help. The reason I am noting this is that when 
helping people, especially in the Third World countries, and whether they realize it 
or not, we are harming them and actually degrading them when we offer relief to 
them instead of giving other types of help which really will in turn help these 
people get back on their feet. Giving people handouts normally does NOT help 
them. It keeps them in a state of poverty and keeps them looking for handouts 
instead of work. The exceptions are when a country or area of the world has 
been hit with a catastrophe, such as a Typhoon or hurricane, in which cases 
they do need immediate relief. In those cases, we can help as families as well 
by providing funds or giving our time to help in a crisis. But most poverty 
situations are best helped by helping the communities to learn how to develop 
where they are. Families can help with the needs. I recommend the book, 
'How to Help' by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

** Tim Timmons, A Christian music artist, recommends Compassion 

International. His family has sponsored children through this organization 
which helps with the development of children in Third World Countries. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A New Activity For The Family - Worm Composting

  Gardening can be a fun activity, if you start out small, and take time to learn the ins and outs of it. It is enjoyable to watch a plant grow from a tiny seed, then produce food. Also, it is more nourishing than the store bought vegetables, because you can control what you use to feed the plant, and you won't have to worry about the produce having been around for too long either in traveling from farm to the store (which could take many days) or if it has been on the shelves for more than a couple of days. (Produce has the most nourishment when it is picked.)

  Organic gardening is even more fun! It can be an expensive hobby, or, it can be a simple activity if you want to grow one or two plants. Always start out small (I know, I never follow this directive, but I will tell others to, simply because I get in over my head when I do things like this)! If you start out small, you can manage your garden more easily, and as time goes on, you can add more plants.

    Gardening can be a fun family activity as well. If you have a large enough yard, you can build a few garden beds and give each child the responsibility for one of the garden beds. I know this could be a challenge if you have 10 kids! Start out small, and as you learn the ropes, add more garden beds.

    There are different ways of gardening. Some of the methods can be used together as well. I have used the Square Foot Gardening method most of my gardening life. It produces a raised bed, which helps with drainage. You add the specific ingredients the book calls for (Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew). You build the soil and add compost and other ingredients.


 I don't recommend using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, as those are toxins and are harmful for use to ingest. I remember one time, I watched a television show on the wheat the the big flour companies grow on their big farms. They showed pictures of people who were spraying the wheat with pesticides using their machinery. After that, every time I would buy flour from the store, I remembered that show. There were no alternatives back then (no one had ever heard of organic gardening) so I reluctantly bought the tainted flour. Of course, we always prayed over our food and trusted that God would protect us from any harm in it. Is it any wonder that so many people in America today cannot eat wheat products?

    There is also another gardening method that is fantastic. You can find videos on this type of gardening on Youtube. It is called, 'Back to Eden' Gardening. It involves using layers of newspapers, compost, leaves, and wood chips. You put those in several layers. I use the black and white newspapers (Omit the colored parts of the newspapers as they may have toxins). The man who invented this way of gardening, Paul Gautschi, is very successful at growing most everything he plants.


 Back to the worm composting. Whatever methods you use in gardening, your plants will need food. You need to choose a good, natural food for your plants. Miracle Gro, a chemical fertilizer,  is much like synthetic vitamins that we can buy at the store. You have really good growth for a while, but then it doesn't work well. Making compost is the best way to make plant food. Anything that ends up valuable, takes time to make.

   Years ago, we lived next door to a family who gardened. I also was learning how to garden. I tried to grow pea plants, but nothing happened, until one day, I got some cow manure and put some around the plants. Then they took off. But we moved away before I could get anything from them. But the man next door would take his food scraps and place them around his plants in his gardens. I thought that was interesting and had been doing that ever since, that is, until the raccoons and squirrels misunderstood and thought I was providing them with a midnight snack!

   I have a couple of composting bins in the house. I also have some probiotic stuff to put in them that contains microbes which will eat the food scraps and turn them into compost, if I do it right (and not make it too wet).

    But, I do have a worm compost factory (I think that is what mine was called). It is black, and has three trays. You have to put in some type of medium for the worms to live in, so I used coconut coir. I put my food scraps in the top tray and let the worms enjoy them. In turn, they make compost for me. The compost ends up on the bottom tray, and you scoop it out as you need it. (You have to remove the top trays to get to the bottom one!)

  Here is the url to the worm composting page that I made:

  My grandson enjoys looking at the worms when I lift up the top tray. Worms do not like light, so they will scurry down into the medium to get away from it.

   The worms will multiply and there will be a lot of them, if they are fed right. What they produce that is so valuable is called 'worm castings'. In the video on the worm composting page, Uncle Jim shows a picture of what the worm casting looks like. That is what the food is that is so good for the plants.

   If you are homeschooling, this is a good project to work on. It teaches science to the children, and they get to see what happens with their own eyes. But even if you are not homeschooling, your children will enjoy watching the worms do their thing. Who knows. Maybe they will take the worms up as pets. And that would make it all worth it.

  And if you get really good at it and have a productive worm farm, you could even sell your worms. People use them for gardening, and also for fishing bait. You could have a family business as well!